Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa


This series is fascinating. The characters and concepts surprise me every time I visit.

With a writing style that draws me in, I’m off on an adventure to a place with beautiful things–magical creatures, dragons, beautiful courts, and people who hold to promises no matter what.

Don’t make a promise in the land of faery unless you really know what you’re doing. These creatures may be unpredictable and wild, but promises are kept.

This honesty gave them an odd, pleasant quality–I can’t describe it–like, expect them to eat you. Expect them to turn you in to their king or queen with a broad smile. But also, expect them to do what they say they will.

The creatures, characters, places here are wild–but this honest quality gives them something I can respect, compared to other books where they just do what they want.

Meghan Chase is looking for her little brother, Ethan, who’s been replaced with a changeling. Finding him isn’t going to be easy, and on her way to Ethan, she finds herself in new messes and battling new obstacles. Her best friend is a faery, and there’s a talking cat named Grimalkin who doesn’t tire of reminding her that she’s human and he is a cat.

Grim is an interesting character. I liked him most! The talking cat who’s shamelessly more intelligent is a nice change, an original character that someone needed to come up with.

This was my second read of The Iron King. I will never tire of this world and the people we encounter.

It’s definitely one of my favorite Young Adult series, funny and creative and engrossing. Give it a try–meet characters who will stick with you for a very long time.

I can’t wait to get to Book 2–my heart’s still in the Nevernever.

Find The Iron King on Goodreads!

Guest Post: How TV Shows Can Help You Plot Your Novel


by Alexa Skrywer

Yup, you read that title correctly. TV shows – and I’m talking the real ones, the epic ones, not the Disney ones – can help immensely with plotting out your novel.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I promise I won’t be offended. Finished now? Great.

I’m going to use Supernatural as an example, because that’s a show I’ve just started watching (Yes, I know I’m way behind) and I really like the character arcs.

supernatural
If you haven’t seen it, Supernatural is the story of two brothers raised by their father to fight all manner of supernatural creatures. The series also holds a bit of a detective edge since they have to figure out what sort of monster is haunting the area before they can kill it, and because, amidst all this, Dean (older brother) and Sam (younger brother), are also searching for their aforementioned missing father.

Yeah. These poor boys have a lot on their plate.

As a huge fantasy nut, I love the action in this series. There’s a new monster almost every show – from shapeshifters to the Grim Reaper – and Sam and Dean are totally boss when fighting them.

But what I love even more than the action, is the emotion of the story, the beautiful character arcs and the bond between the brothers. How they’re constantly killing evil spirits for normal citizens, all while battling the demons of their own pasts. I love how Sam takes care of Dean and Dean takes care of Sam and how, even though they have their share of arguments, they’re always there for each other.

Ahem. I’ll stop fangirling now.

On to how this can help with writing: The overall story is that of two monster-hunting brothers searching for their father. But, as I said above, there are supernaturals, too, new ones nearly every show. These create a host of mini-plotlines, keeping the action moving as our boys travel cross country, looking for their dad and learning to relate to each other.

And those mini-plotlines are exactly what we need in our novels. You have the overall plot “Character wants this and decides to do this to get it,” and then the little obstacles and helps along the way – the little tidbits you slip into the story, arresting the reader’s attention, while building up to the final climax (which I haven’t seen in Supernatural yet, so don’t spoil it for me if you know).

The obstacles/helps can come in the form of people (in one episode, Sam and Dean find an old friend of their father’s, and she helps them with a case) or difficult situations (…every single episode, but anyway). Sometimes, the smaller plotlines end during the story; they’re wrapped up in a pretty little bow and then we move on. Other times, they open fresh nuances in the overall plot, for instance the end of the very first episode and a certain discovery about Sam in the fifth. Both of them revealed more about the relationships of the characters, kept the story moving, and built carefully on the leaning tower that is every story, leaving me riveted, breathless, and desperate for more.

Which, of course, is the very feeling I want to inflict on some poor reader someday.

People always say the best way to master something is to study it, learn from the greats (practice, too, but we’re not talking about that today). So the next time someone accuses you of watching too much TV, laugh, roll your eyes like they simply do not understand, and inform them in the kindest way possible that you’re conducting writing research.

I’m an aspiring author and beginning blogger. Find me weekly here.

PARIS by Edward Rutherfurd


This book was 800 pages long.

It had been years since I even tried to read something so big. Even better, it covered different periods of time in Paris, following the same families and places. It is fantastic and completely swallowed me up.

My mind is blown–how does one become patient enough to write something like this? How long does the project take, from research to revising? A writer lives in the world they create, so Edward Rutherfurd has definitely spent a long time immersed in Paris.

The most exciting part of the book, in my opinion, was the beginning–where he covers Paris at the time the Eiffel Tower was being constructed.

Gustave Eiffel is a character in this novel, and so bold! He is not loved by everybody, but they all know his name. Everyone knows he’s going to build a tower many consider ugly. Very few believe in it, and there were repeated attempts to bring it down after it was completed. Now it's iconic–irony, right?

There is some adult content you could skim over, and language to make it gritty.

As a whole the book is powerful and I miss it already. If you want a read that'll cover your entire summer, I highly suggest this book. I've really got to find his other work…

Find it on Goodreads!